Researchers from Prevent Blindness America and the U.S. National Eye Institute reported that more than 2.7 million Americans aged 40 and older are affected by this eye disease, which can damage the optic nerve and gradually lead to blindness.
A number of demographic and health trends have increased the number of Americans who fall into the major risk groups for glaucoma. These trends include:
- The aging of America
- Growth in the black and Hispanic populations
- The ongoing obesity epidemic
There has been a steady rise in glaucoma among the African American community. Currently, more than 520,000 African Americans have glaucoma, and the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health projects this number will rise to approximately 865,000 cases by 2030, a 66 percent increase. African Americans have the highest prevalence of glaucoma among minority groups. Last year, NEI invested $71 million on a wide range of studies to understand causes and potential areas of treatment for glaucoma.